UNO Bachelor’s Degree in Bioinformatics (X-A-1). Bioinformatics is a rapidly expanding field in which specialists analyze vast amounts of data produced by genomic DNA sequencing and mapping. Since 1999, the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the University of Nebraska Medical Center have offered a bioinformatics track in master’s and Ph.D. programs in pathology and microbiology. The need for a rigorous undergraduate program in this field has become increasingly apparent.
UNK and UNO “Low Residency” MFA in Writing (X-A-2). The University of Nebraska at Kearney English Department and the Writer’s Workshop at the University of Nebraska at Omaha plan to jointly administer a master of fine arts degree program in creative writing. A unique feature of the program will be that 16 weeks of distance-education seminars will be interspersed among five 10-day periods of on-campus residency.
Guaranteed Tuition Grants for Pell-Grant Students (X-A-4). The benefits of a college education are well established, but many financially needy young people are not completing a bachelor’s degree. In fact, there is evidence that some students don’t even attempt to enroll because they believe they cannot afford a university education. Recently, the Nebraska Legislature’s Higher Education Task Force has urged Nebraska higher education institutions to increase the number of students they enroll. This program would address these issues by providing guaranteed grants to full-time students who receive federal Pell Grants (which are targeted to financially needy students). The university tuition grant would not substitute for, but would supplement, existing University of Nebraska need-based student aid, providing additional funding to cover the cost of tuition. The tuition grant program covers tuition only, not the cost of fees, room and board, or other expenses associated with attending the university.
Revenue Bonds to Fund UNL Stadium Project (X-B-8 & 9). This proposal for a funding mechanism to support improvements to Memorial Stadium at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln would retire an existing $13 million bond issue for earlier stadium improvements and refund the bonds at a lower interest rate. A new $53 million bond issue would then fund the new stadium project and costs associated with issuing the bonds, which would mature in 20 years. Private donations and revenue from expanded seating in the stadium would provide financial support for the bond issue. The cost of the project remains unchanged, at $50 million.
University-wide Diversity Report (X-D-2). This report will be discussed during the Regents’ General Affairs Committee Meeting on Friday, April 23. It is one in a series of such reports to the board since the establishment of diversity goals for the university in 1993. The report provides in detail the status of racial and ethnic diversity on each of the four University of Nebraska Campuses, and concludes with three general recommendations: 1) establishment of regular reviews of the Regents’ diversity goals; 2) using federal IPEDS data for consistency of reporting, and 3) using uniform exit interviews with employees who leave the university to determine the cause(s) of their decision to depart.
Distance Education Strategic Plan ((X-D-3). This report will be discussed during the Regents’ Outreach and Service Committee meeting on Friday, April 23. It describes a new, strategic four-year plan for the university’s distance education programs. Demand for distance education courses is rapidly increasing, especially among the adult-learner population. Public universities nationwide --including the University of Nebraska-- are responding. Fully 90 percent now offer distance education courses.
Strategic Issue. The strategic issue discussion for April will focus on development of the 2005-2007 biennial budget request which will be presented for approval at the Board of Regents June 5 meeting. The request, as approved, will be submitted to the Governor, the Legislature and the Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education in the fall.
Please note: For additional information on these or other items on the Board of Regents agenda, please call Joe Rowson at (402) 47207133 or (402) 450-6122. The entire agenda is posted on the University of Nebraska website, http://www.nebraska.edu/board/board_agendas.shtml